New Name, New Logo, New Initiatives
As you know there are many terms to describe this field. Our term, Equine Facilitated Wellness, was born in 2009 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, over a supper meeting when a group of us were trying to create a name that would represent our approach and philosophy of working in respectful relationship with our sentient equine partners. Emily Pelletier of Generation Farms in Nanaimo suggested the name of equine facilitated wellness and everyone immediately approved of this expression that encompassed the distinct but inter-related three streams of our training designations: Equine Professional, Learning Professional and Mental Health Professional. Certification candidates, depending on their education and experience, can choose to certify in a single designation, dual or tri certification. Candidates develop their scope of practice and how they will integrate equine facilitated wellness into their practice during the EFW training and certification process.
Originally, we chose the name Equine Facilitated Wellness-Canada, because we are fiercely and proudly Canadian and we wanted everyone to know the origin of this rich and in-depth training and certification program. We also wanted other countries or regions to be able to use the name and attach their country to the end as we expand to other areas. However, we received some feedback that people assumed that the program was just for Canadians and so it seemed to limit our reach as to who would be welcomed into the fold of learning about the Equine Facilitated Wellness approach. And so, our new name was created by our Marketing Committee who have been working hard to make improvements to how we are seen and understood by our public and membership.
These improvements will be rolled out over time with the updating of our website, more accessible information and streamlining of the certification process. We will keep you abreast of these new initiatives and in the meantime if you have any questions, suggestions, comments or concerns we would love to hear from you. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and through our website: www.equinefacilitatedwellness.org.
We are celebrating the progress we have made since 2005 when this organization was conceived by a small group of people who wanted to create an association that recognized the depth and breadth of this incredible equine-human relationship that can be fostered by mutual respect and understanding. We hope that you will join us in this continuing discovery, as we expand this like-minded community of people who practice equine facilitated wellness.
Susan Cressy, on behalf of the Board of Directors and Committee Members of the Professional Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness
EAHAE Personal Development For
My choice was based on validating my prior experience, both as a teacher and equestrian. Also on how professional the standards were. I really wanted the cheapest, quickest, nearest training in Equine Facilitated Learning, and struggled because Pro-EFW was not all of this. But I discovered that I could drive to Healing Hooves (whose descriptive, professional website impressed me) daily, rather than incurring the price of extra travel and accommodation. Also, I felt that I was getting three times the training for a similar price charged for one week by a nearby trainer. Mentorship hours and Personal Development requirements slipped under my ‘price comparison radar’.
Being frugal, paying for Personal Development grated on me, when it hit home that there was a substantial extra cost for which I hadn’t budgeted. My attitude was “I have my basic 3- horses, dogs, cats, plus friends and family to keep me happy and grounded.” I studied ways of getting ‘the most’ out of my personal development spending, while completing the required hours. Underneath all was an inability to let myself simply be a client. This struggle continues.
Along the training path, it was reinforced that it is easier to give than receive, perhaps I could be a ‘chronic caregiver’ unable to accept care myself. Intellectually I know that we need to replenish ourselves, or we will have nothing left to give, but stubbornly the inner voice said’ I got this’, lets maximize our Personal Development spending. It couldn’t just be simply personal growth, I wanted to experience and compare facilitators trained in other methods. Less time was spent completely engaged, and some considerable time judging, during my first few personal growth equine assisted sessions with facilitators trained in other modalities.
Comparing versus judging can be a fine line to tread. Finally I embraced the sentiment that ‘if we can’t be a client, we are judgemental,’ which is detrimental to unconditional acceptance. It sunk in that it takes courage to be a client, and I needed to accept the process without reservations.
An invitation arrived for a relative’s wedding in Sweden in Aug 2019. The idea of planning a solo trip around a stint of family time appealed to me. In Jan 2019 I discovered EAHAE- European Association of Horse Assisted Education, who also view the horse as a sentient being. Their website showed a map of all practitioners. I narrowed down which ones were within a day’s train travel of the wedding location, and emailed about 15 of them, introducing myself as an Equine Facilitated Learning Professional certification candidate, interested in being a client while in Europe.
Three responses came from practitioners able to see me in my time frame. Verena Neuse with Die PferdeAkademie, near Hamburg, Germany, offered me a discount, and was pleasant to communicate with. I planned to meet her, and fly into Hamburg before my wedding destination. Lenna Billekop of Amager Rideterapi outside of Copenhagen, Denmark was unable to commit that far in advance. Nina Brundstedt of Sava Ridcenter outside of Stockholm, Sweden, responded: if you want to live with us at our riding school, we have a nice house from 17 th century with a lot of beds and a nice well organized kitchen where you can make food.
I planned an Aug 22nd personal development session followed by an afternoon of volunteering with Verena Neuse’s children’s group at DiePferdeakademie. I hoped to book a combination personal development/riding Icelandic horses to the ocean near Copenhagen, Denmark with Lenna Billekop, and after taking the train across Sweden to Stockholm, would possibly visit Sava Ridcenter. Trains, ferries, flights and AirBnB’s booked, the most expensive part of my trip would be my personal development and horse time.
Linda and I and her dog visited around a patio table under an umbrella, and she shared her dream of walking to Scotland with a donkey. My Ich bin verlossen (I’m lost) stress melted away outdoors, surrounded by dogs, horses and donkeys. Verena returned and I inquired about EAHAE training, she was one of the first trainees. Corporate seminars were her bread and butter, and having children’s groups was her ‘heart’ work.
I attempted being in the moment only (I’ll absorb the complete EAHAE philosophy and methodology today). Introduction to three minis and two mini donkeys together in one paddock were made. Observations, interactions, and eventually my choice of two equines to further a relationship with followed. Tasks with my chosen mini and mini donkey followed in a sand arena, individually, with and without leads, then with both equines and obstacles.
Feeling ‘these little critters are stubborn and spoiled’, my expectations of myself ‘acing’ the horsemanship were dashed. Somewhere during my equine time I became absorbed in my interactions, and out of my head, forgot that I was being observed, and enjoyed the challenge of improving my relationship with the animals while solving the problem of moving them around their simple obstacle course. Discussion ensued regarding my reasons for my choices in animals, methods of interacting with them, reactions to challenges presented, and creative responses to problems. I revelled in the focus on myself by equines and humans, and the positive feedback about my strengths. My session confirmed the need to slow down, take the time it takes, and be in the moment without judgement.
The universality and rightness of the precept of animals and nature enhancing personal growth and learning never felt more real than when following the group of children and animals down the lane in Germany. The idyllic vision of the children and herd meandering ahead on the tree lined lane in dappled sunlight stays with me still. What I remember is the kindness and flexibility of Verena and Linda accommodating my lateness. They modelled ‘assisting fellow practitioners’ by giving me a discount and freely sharing ideas. My similar goals of being in nature, promoting play and animal relationships for learning and personal growth, were affirmed.
Could I be starting to get the hang of ‘being a client’ and accepting help? There is always so much to learn, and so many detours on the way. For the remainder of my European journey, and for future personal development, I hoped to focus on having fewer preconceived expectations. Pro-EFW training is affirmed as the right path for me, and taking the time it takes, without overcomplicating my experiential learning with ulterior motives, a constant goal. I’m excited about my next personal development sessions being with fellow Pro-EFW practitioners, and sharing my herd and prairie spaces in my practice.